INTRODUCTIONHindus are blessed by a noble virtue that other religions should emulate, particularly the Christian and Islam. Hindus feel that it is worse than impolite to try to persuade another person that they should change their religious beliefs. Proselytizing is bad manners. Until recently, a Hindu would not put down someone else's religion. They feel that each one of us must find our own relationship to the spirit of God. As globalization accelerates all other religions should adopt this ethic. Much unnecessary friction would be minimized as population pressures challenge privacy and the right to be let alone. The MeetingHouse praises the Hindu religion for this good example in life.
The friction between Islam and Hinduism is undeniable. They are neighbors who need to find a way to get along with each other. Recently, aggressive proselytizing of Hindus by Christians in India has resulted in some murderous responses by Hindus. The need for peaceful reconciliations is too obvious. Hindus can not do it alone.
There is no single religion that can be called Hinduism. Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worship. No religious idea in India ever dies or is superseded; it is merely combined with the new ideas that arise in response to a felt need for change. God (Brahma), or the Absolute, is the source of all appearances becoming manifest in many ways, including different Gods and Goddesses. This tolerance is so people can approach, understand, and worship. It is not a competition. Hinduism is like an ocean, different beliefs have come in and merged over the centuries.
Many outsiders think Hinduism is a religion. But, to an Indian it is a way of life. This very old religion has many sects. The range is from popular Hindu beliefs to that of elaborate rituals especially for chanting. Memorizing and chanting are fundamental to the practice of this religions that is so popular even dominant in India. The MeetingHouse calls for Hindus to produce and distribute universal DVDs of some of their chanting to enable other religions to better understand the spirit of the millions of devout Hindus.
Hinduism's has many stages of transition and varieties of coexistence (Karma). Magic rites, animal worship, and belief in demons are combined with worship of more personal gods or with mysticism, and asceticism. This most ancient religion is abstract and profound and there are esoteric doctrines. The worship of local deities does not exclude the belief in pan-Indian higher gods. It is most unfortunate that the vast majority of Christians and Muslims fail to understand that for many Hindus, today, there is a single high God. The local deities are quite often looked upon as manifestations of a high God. (See Mahatma Gandhi's prayers, below, for more insight)
It is suggested that the closest set of universal Hindu doctrines are the five "Yamas" or abstentions somewhat similar to the Ten Commandments of Christianity in their importance they are:
•Ahimsa-Non-violence in mind and action, including avoidance of arrogance and anger.
•Satya-Prohibition against lying.
•Asteya-Prohibition against stealing
•Brahmacharya-Self - Disciplined control over wrong doing lusts, including tobacco and
•Asparigraha-Self-discipline of greed and unnecessary wants and desires in particular for
Hindu temples have no standard rituals such as Catholic Mass or the Friday Prayer of Islam. However, there is a common practice of delivering food to the temple as a sacrifice, then sharing that food with the community. It is an indication of the world respect for Hinduism that at the dedication of the new very large Hindu Temple in Delhi all religions such as the Jains, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Hebrews, Taoists joined Prime Ministers in dedicating the beautiful temple.
Hindus are inclined to revere the Divine in every manifestation. They are, generally, doctrinal tolerant, allowing others, including both Hindus and non-Hindus, whatever beliefs suit them best. This is hard for most Christians and Muslims to understand because those faiths believe they have the only true path to God. The proselytizing of those faiths too often offends the tolerant Hindus. Tragically, such proselytizing has been on the increase to the dismay of many
A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be a Hindu. This because Hindus think by way of synthesizing as a routine normal way. They are non-linear in their thinking rather than linear as in the Cartesian West. They regard other forms of worship,strange gods, and divergent doctrines as incomplete rather than wrong or objectionable. They tend to believe that the highest divine powers complement one another. Few religious ideas are considered to be irreconcilable.
To Hindus the core of all religion does not depend on the existence or nonexistence of God or on whether there is one god or many. The Divine is more abstract. Religious truth is said to transcend all verbal definition. It is not conceived in dogmatic terms. Hindus tend to distinguish themselves from others on the basis of practice rather than doctrine (orthodoxy). This emphasis on how one lives further de-emphasizes doctrinal differences. It would be wise if the religious leaders of others major religions would encourage their followers to adopt this critically important world view at this time of global unrest.
Hinduism knows its source is prehistoric. It appears to arise from
the in-migration of Indo-Europeans (Aryans) before recorded history. (Recent
scholarship on the sub-continent has challenged that assumption and urges
multifarious sources.) Hinduism is both a civilization and a congregation of
religions. It has neither a beginning or founder, nor a central authority,
hierarchy, or organization. Every attempt at a specific definition of Hinduism
has proved unsatisfactory in some way. In that sense the lay person must grasp
the major overarching idea that differences in attitudes and interpretations may
be a product of some Hindu-Human's polishing his own lamp rather than seeking to
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